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Hello All,

I hope this newsletter finds you safe and healthy, and I thank you for taking the time to connect with us. I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s July. The past several months have seemed like a whirlwind that has shaken up our world, communities, and the lives of seniors and families everywhere.

As COVID-19 began to spread rapidly, impacting our older adults, we quickly pivoted, becoming so much more than just frontline voices for our residents and seniors. We became an emergency response beacon and mechanism, helping to meet the critical needs of our most vulnerable aging populations and the care staff that serve them.

It’s safe to say that none of the work we have done to distribute PPE, to collect used iPads and tablet donations, to help educate our community and to build programs like the Elder Justice Lunch and Learn Series would be possible without our team – staff and volunteers, but also our most gracious donors and community partners. And while our work is just beginning, we are honored and proud to be the voice and the frontline working to serve and protect a movement of residents and families.

I hope you will continue to read below for more news on our seniors, our organization, and how we’ve been innovating our team into this new era of care. Please feel free to reach out to our team at any time with questions, concerns, or help locate and access necessary resources.

Nicole Howell
Executive Director

Ombudsman in Action – Innovation and Advocacy During COVID-19

As you may know, Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa, Solano and Alameda is a federally mandated program. Our mission is to act as a voice for residents in long-term care, ensuring they live free of abuse and neglect through regular unannounced visits to facilities along with several other advocacy efforts.

Since the pandemic began, we have not been able to do our regular physical check-ins at the skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities in our communities, but that doesn’t mean we stop supporting the 29,000 residents that we serve. Our organization and our team are very aware of emergency preparedness, and we’ve put that into action. We’ve been working directly with facilities, participating in care conferences discussing supply needs, and infectious control plans. We’ve been talking daily with family and residents, and our team has completed hundreds of consultations with both facilities and individuals connecting them with vital information and resources.

One of our biggest weapons has perhaps been our voice, collaborating with local media, community partners and organizations to educate and implement collaborative programs. As you will read more about below, we’ve also had the opportunity to testify during the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Hearing, “Examining the COVID-19 Nursing Home Crisis.”

Just recently, we have received updated guidance and are looking forward to safely returning to a limited visitation and investigation schedule in the coming weeks.

With a new era of care and a new industry landscape, we continue to look ahead on how to innovate further and address issues that our seniors face, and that we will face as we continue on our own aging journey. We need to fight, make connections, ask for help, spread the word, and encourage a new framework to ensure we can all participate in society living a safe, healthy, and happy life today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Ways & Means Health Subcommittee Hearing Examining the COVID-19 Nursing Home Crisis

“The issues that COVID-19 exploited are not highly technical or complex; they are basic issues of training and adequate staffing,” said Nicole Howell, our Executive Director as one of her many points during the congressional hearing, “Examining the COVID-19 Nursing Home Crisis,” on June 25. Nicole, along with six other witnesses provided powerful testimony to help the committee better understand the landscape of long-term care in this country and how COVID-19 exploited its weaknesses and left residents without protection or oversight. We’re so proud of Nicole, and the Ombudsman Services organization represent not just a nation, but a movement of long-term care residents and their families. If you were unable to tune in, you can still listen and read Nicole’s full statement on our News page.